Today is the first Sunday of Lent, and Catholics have a long tradition of marking Lent as an specially important time for praying, fasting and giving alms, or helping the poor. For some of us, this has boiled down to giving up candy for six weeks , drinking less coffee, or not watching a favorite show on television. For some, the old idea of giving something up has been replaced by doing things we tend not to do the rest of year. These may be such things as participating in daily Mass, reading spiritual books, saying the Rosary or setting aside a special time for prayer. All of these things are good. Whatever discipline we choose, its goal should be long-term spiritual growth. It should help us grow closer to God, appreciate more what Jesus went through for us, and make our lives permanently more Christ-like.
Saint Paul calls our attention to the promise of salvation God has made, which is recorded for us in Scripture. He points out that we are to confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord. The words are not enough and the actions are not enough- they must work in unison if we really believe.
Now we begin to wait. From Ash Wednesday we began our 960 hours of waiting! That is a long time! During these forty days of awaiting, let us take the time to be patient, this is so important for us if we want to be open to what really is taking place. Our attitude must reflect certainty that greater good will take place at the end of these forty days of waiting. It is the good that the Lord is preparing for us. Waiting gives us the time to prepare for that good, the time to be transformed -a time to be quiet.
Many think Lent as a time of gloom and suffering. Whereas it is a time of penance, it need not be a time of misery. Penances should bring one closer to God. The sacrifices we do should reflect the hope we have in the coming of Easter. Just like the Jews, we have the choice of being spiritually dead or alive. This Lent can be a time of misery, pain, and death or it can be one of true spiritual growth and life.
May God bless you all!
Your brother in Christ